This pumpkin cheesecake is the result of James Beard winner Kelly Field's dislike of pumpkin pie

"The combination of pumpkin and espresso is like peanut butter and chocolate; they should just be together"

Published November 22, 2020 3:38PM (EST)

Pumpkin Cheesecake (Oriana Koren/Penguin Random House)
Pumpkin Cheesecake (Oriana Koren/Penguin Random House)

This recipe is yet another result of my dislike of pumpkin pie (see my Pumpkin Pie with Roasted White Chocolate Cream, page 184). This cheesecake is really an innocent bystander in my attempt to make something at Thanksgiving that I would actually want to eat. The combination of pumpkin and espresso is like peanut butter and chocolate; they should just be together.

RELATED: Cookies can be chewy and crispy at the same time. James Beard winner Kelly Fields shares the secret


Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Makes one 9-inch cheesecake


  • 2 cups finely ground gingersnap cookies (approximately thirty-five 2-inch cookies)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • 2 1⁄4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1⁄2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 (28-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree (2 1⁄2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground espresso
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature

1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Lightly spray the paper. Wrap the entire outside of the pan tightly in two layers of foil, all the way to the top. In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnaps and cayenne. Stir in the butter until evenly incorporated. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and up the sides as far as you are able. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until golden and aromatic. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

2. Make the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the cream cheese with the brown sugar until very smooth, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula several times. Once the mixture is completely smooth, add the pumpkin, espresso, cinnamon, and salt and mix on medium-low speed until combined. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, incorporating well after each addition, just until evenly mixed. Continuing to mix past that point, even though the batter won't look different, only incorporates extra air, which will cause the cheesecake to bubble excessively and the surface to crack as that air tries to escape during the baking process.

3. Set a roasting pan on the center rack in the oven. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and set the springform pan in the roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with hot water so it's a little over halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 1 to 11⁄2 hours, until the filling is set and slightly puffy. Once done, carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and let the cheesecake cool before removing  it from the water bath. (You don't want to try to grab the pan out of hot water if you can help it.) However, if you're worried that your cheesecake might be slightly overbaked, you'll want to pull it out rather quickly and let it cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before slicing. The cake can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days.

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By Kelly Fields

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Baking Cheesecake Desserts Food Kelly Fields Southern Food The Good Book Of Southern Baking